Two additional Lafayette Parish School System officials have been added as defendants to a whistle blower lawsuit claiming the “Schools of Choice” program is rife with illegal discrimination.
The former employee who once ran the program and brought the case, Azadeh Yazdi, claims she was fired for exposing wrongdoing and suffered various forms of other retaliation.
The initial suit, filed in April in federal court, named Superintendent Donald Aguillard and four other employees, along with the school board as a singular entity.
In additional court flings Friday, Yazdi levels previously undisclosed allegations against Assistant Superintendent Joseph Craig and Human Resources Director Suzanne Thibodeaux and names them in the suit. Yazdi accuses Craig of ordering her to lie to the School Board about the Schools of Choice program, and Thibodeaux of pressuring Yazdi to resign.
Thibodeaux is also accused of tampering with Yazdi’s personnel file by removing a sexual harassment grievance that Yazdi filed against her immediate supervisor, Robin Olivier, who is one of the named defendants in the original lawsuit.
Olivier and another of the named defendants, former Chief Academic Officer Annette Samec, resigned within weeks of Yazdi filing her lawsuit.
Thibodeaux declined comment, citing school system policy. Craig referred questions to the school system’s lawyers. An attorney representing the school system in the case, John Blanchard, did not return a phone call Friday afternoon.
Olivier declined comment. Samec did not return a phone call. Aguillard declined comment.
School Board President Erick Knezek previously characterized Yazdi’s action as “a good person’s decision to sue the school system, unfortunately under misguided counsel,” a reference to Yazdi’s attorney, Lane Roy, who also represented in former superintendent Pat Cooper in Cooper’s successful lawsuit for wrongful termination.
Knezek said at the time the lawsuit was filed that an internal investigation had determined the firing was lawful, and that the lawsuit was filed on top of several demand letters for monetary compensation.
Knezek did not respond to an email Friday afternoon.
The original lawsuit claims Samec and Olivier made admissions decisions for Schools of Choice based on “race, color, friendship, relationship by blood or marriage, and even whether the persons were children” of employees. Yazdi claims Samec and Olivier sexually harassed her after she spoke up about the discriminatory practices.
The school system has filed a pending motion to dismiss on technical grounds but has not yet answered the allegations.